Don't sweat the TECHNIQUE!" There's a huge difference between TECHNIQUE exercises and Vocal WARMUPS. A warmup is something you might do for 5-15 minutes before a performance, an audition, or even a practice session. However, technique exercises are specifically designed vocal workouts that help to build strength, flexibility, coordination, stamina, resonance, agility, and tone. Too many singers never achieve the results they are hoping for because they don't see the point of doing "warmups". Yet, when this happens, they have sadly missed the point entirely by mistaking valuable technique practice for mere "warmups". Don't just warm up and then sing songs. Make sure you've also got focussed daily technique exercises that allow you to become the singer you want to be. For the best results and fastest progress with your singing: "Don't sweat the TECHNIQUE!"
Have you had an absolutely fantastic performance where you just NAILED it? It's exhilarating, full of nuance, and seems to happen effortlessly! Have you ever then tried to repeat that performance? Chances are, the second time around it was far less satisfying and felt a bit forced. Remember - even when we sing the same songs or say the same words- there are no two performances that are exactly alike. This is actually the Joy of performing. But to stay consistent, try to repeat the actions that led to the successful performance. Pay attention to your impulses. Stay emotionally available. Dare to thrive in the present moment. There will never be two that are the same, but you'll soon find your best performances happening more often than ever!
We often think of our vocal quality on a SPECTRUM. Bright vs. Dark. Forward vs. Back. Heavy vs. Light. There are many factors that contribute to these qualities and they don't always have to work together. Think about sound mixing boards in a recording studio. We don't raise or lower all the faders at the same time! Instead, we look for the best balance of the faders, adjusting them individually or in various combinations. We can think of singing the same way. If you're looking for a brighter tone, you can raise your larynx, brighten your vowels, or add some "twang." What if you brighten your vowels while lowering your larynx? What if your larynx stays neutral and you add some twang while you keep your vowels the same? Each of these elements (and more) can function independently giving you countless options. Become the sound engineer of your own voice!
Happy 4th of July to all of our USA singers! Did you know that the tune for the American National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," was originally written for a British gentlemen's club called the Anacreontic Society? The melody has a range of an octave and one fifth. That's a pretty big range for many singers to navigate! If you're having trouble hitting those high notes at the end, be sure you're starting the first phrase in a very low range for your voice. There's a long way to go before you reach the top! But, never forget that all great nations and all great singers start in low and humble places before they reach their greatest heights! This Independence Day, let freedom (and your voice) RING!
A True Artist is someone who never asks when they are going to be "DONE". Or, when they are going to "MAKE IT". Or, when they are going to be a "GREAT SINGER". A True Artist is instead a LIFELONG LEARNER. Someone who isn't seeking an ending point, but rather seeking the endless Joy that comes from learning about their body, craft, and soul. Even the most elite artists continue to take voice lessons, listen to new music, and develop their craft. Being a lifelong learner doesn't mean that you'll never be "good enough" or that you shouldn't set goals! It just means that your True Goal should be much bigger than any ONE goal. Let this take the pressure off of you so that you can develop an Artistry that fulfills and satisfies you... for LIFE!
As singers, we stand as BEACONS of terrific Posture! And yet, you may find yourself slumping at your day job or hunching during your daily commutes. It's actually quite easy for poor Posture to turn into a habit. Not only does this affect long-term health, but it also has negative effects on singing. So, it's imperative to PRACTICE good Posture! Practice becomes easier if we think of Posture as BALANCE. We should balance our weight from front to back and from side to side. Typically, imbalanced Posture takes the form of leaning too far forward with the head jutting ahead of the body. To easily attain balance, practice lifting your sternum as though it was being pulled from above. It's less likely that you will jut the head forward with a slightly lifted sternum. Simple mindfulness like this will cause your posture to remain tall (and balanced) everyday!
Looking to increase your Nasal Resonance? First, identify what it feels like to use Nasal Resonance. For many, vibrations are felt in the front of the face, around the nose, and under the eyes. This can be most easily felt while singing "MM". Sing "MM" on ascending and descending pitches and experience these vibrations. Then, see if you can feel these same sensations while producing your vowels! Try singing "MM-AH", slowly changing from the "MM" to the "AH" while continuing to keep the sensation towards the front of your face. You should be able to achieve this quite quickly and enjoy it's benefits immediately. Increasing Nasal Resonance will greatly improve the quality and FLEXIBILITY of your voice!
Want to learn a new breathing trick for singing? Then ask your DOG! "Panting" is a fun and easy way to perfect your inhale. Yep, panting - breathing in and out 3 or 4 times in quick succession - like your favorite pooch. First of all, this alleviates excess breath pressure by limiting the amount of air you're able to take in. Try it before you sing a phrase and note how much LIGHTER your singing feels. Secondly, it primes and PREPARES the breathing muscles. Panting for singing is like a gentle sprint for a runner - a great warm up for the task ahead. Lastly, it helps the body to LET GO! Great singing requires your body to move air freely, and panting practices just that. So, do your breathing a favor and practice your puppy pant! You CAN teach an old voice new tricks!
Having trouble singing or performing in a new style? Maybe it's time to stop being a singer for a moment and instead become a SCHOLAR! Go to the style's source. Learn about the history of the style. Study the pioneers who took it from its roots to its current form. Understand the historical and cultural context that contributed to its rise and development. Listen to as many original recordings and live performances as you can. Try to connect what you hear to what you're learning. Music has a long and fascinating history that can help you embody styles outside your comfort zone. Smart singers make successful singers!
"No PRESSURE!" But, are you aware that your voice has its own built-in pressure release system? As we approach higher notes or sing louder, the pressure within the larynx can get to be too much. YET - you can manually decrease this pressure by adjusting your larynx into a lower position! Place your finger on your "Adam's apple" as you gently yawn and you'll notice your larynx lower quite a lot. You can call upon a more subtle lowering action during singing to give your vocal cords extra room to stretch and loosen as notes get higher or stronger. This will improve your control, tone, range, pitch, and much more. So, practice using your new release system and feel the glory of singing with... NO Pressure!
Any live singer knows - MONITORS are a must! Whether it's a speaker or an in-ear, it's essential that you can hear yourself. Sometimes you'll be in a concert hall with perfect acoustics. But, quite often venues like outdoor weddings, hotels, or cafes won't have ideal sound setups. This causes many singers to push or strain to hear themselves clearly. Or, they have pitch problems due to lack of auditory feedback. So, make the Sound Engineer your best friend! If there's no engineer present, then try your best to arrange a setup where the vocals and instruments are audible to both the audience and the performers onstage. You often must take it upon yourself to do a sound check prior to the performance. But, this extra planning will spare you much frustration and will let the audience HEAR YOU at your BEST!
From rappers to auctioneers - We have all stood in AWE of those who possess the ability to speak quickly and clearly with prolific prowess. If we challenge ourselves via exercises (cue: TONGUE TWISTERS!), speaking in real life will seem easy in comparison! Start slowly, carefully, and deliberately to achieve the full integrity of each individual sound. Then gradually speed up until you can go five times as fast for each of these Twisters! - "Red leather, yellow leather." - "My cutlery cuts keenly and cleanly." - "Shy Shelly says she shall sew sheets." - "You know New York,â€¨You need New York,â€¨ You know you need unique New York." ... Word...
Are you a PUSHER or a PEEPER? Pushing is singing with too much pressure and tightness. Peeping is holding back by not using enough breath and vocal fold compression. Either way, the Vocal Fry can help you fix your problem! Try letting your voice make a lazy, low, creaking sound in a very relaxed way. It should be so low that you don't hear a note, but rather a series of pops and bubbles. Next, gradually glide up to the first note of a sung phrase (where you usually push or peep) and then sing confidently. Monitor what you feel and hear. If all goes well, your voice will have enough compression and breath flow to keep your sound solid, but will also be free from excessive force and tension. No more PUSHING, no more PEEPING!
What do singers and toddlers have in common? They both like to blow BUBBLES! Not only is it great fun, but it can also help eliminate vocal tension. You just need two things: a regular drinking straw and a glass of water halfway full. Round your lips, put the straw into your mouth, and blow some bubbles into the water! It's okay if your cheeks puff out! Experiment with how big and small you can make the bubbles. The size, motion, and consistency of the bubbles will give you an indication of how much breath you are releasing. Then, vocalize through the straw! You can use scales, musical patterns, or even the melody of your songs. Continue to be mindful of the bubbles' size and consistency. Discover which combination of these two things minimizes your vocal tension the most. Ah! Singers are forever YOUNG!
When seeking new song material for your Repertoire, don't just search based on your musical and stylistic preferences. Instead, search also by what stands out to you LYRICALLY. Songs can be altered to suit many different styles in more ways than are initially obvious. If you find songs with lyrics that are meaningful, powerful, and personal to you, then your chances of eventually creating a magical performance increase exponentially. So, in selecting new songs, don't just consider the SOUND - consider the special part of yourself that you would like to share with us.
Singing is a SPORT! It's truly a MUSCULAR event. And, any muscular improvement requires training, workouts, personal wellness, rest, and a healthy diet. Thus, as Vocal Athletes, we must not neglect the whole of our Athleticism if we want our voices to excel. Singers are often astonished after beginning a workout program that involves cardio, stretching, weight training, dietary changes, and overall physical fitness. Almost as if by magic their VOICES improve suddenly by leaps and bounds! Why? It's because singing really is a SPORT! So, try becoming a "two-sport athlete" by getting your body AND your voice into their finest forms! See you at the gym (and in the practice room)!
Are you having difficulty developing a free Vibrato? There are a few factors that might be contributing to this. Using too much breath to force the sound out might slow the rate of the Vibrato down. Having too much compression or squeezing the vocal folds too tightly also might slow the Vibrato or potentially even stop it all together. Lastly, any larynx, neck, and jaw tension can contribute to the vocal folds not being able to make the quick and free pitch changes that Vibrato requires. Focus on keeping your breath controlled, your vocal folds gently compressed, and your larynx and related muscles free of tension. If you do, you might be amazed at the movin' and shakin' you can accomplish!
Singing is Joyful. Yet, sadly it often has FEAR surrounding it. Do you sing more quietly because you're scared of someone hearing and judging you? Do you avoid telling people you sing? Do you constantly say negative things to yourself about your own voice? If so, fear might be one of your biggest vocal challenges. But consider replacing fear with JOY! "I have a wonderful gift to share." "I make good vocal choices and I'm kind to my singing voice." "I draw inner strength, confidence, and bravery from my vocal life." And most importantly: "I trust myself." These thoughts can help you before auditions, performances, and other situations that scare you. Singing doesn't have to be a fearful noise. Let it be a Joyful one!
KNOWLEDGE is power! That's why the most important part of the Audition process comes before you even walk through the door! You want to be able to enter an audition room thinking "I KNOW this." This knowing feeling comes from having done everything in your power beforehand. Make sure you've practiced your material inside and out. This will ground you psychologically and physically, allowing you to release nervous tension, calm your breath, and support your sound. A calm mind and a relaxed breathing system are big keys to expressing yourself freely and artistically. So, make sure you KNOW your stuff. If you do, the casting panel will also KNOW exactly what you are capable of!
"Networking" or "Schmoozing" are key parts of building connections and contacts within the entertainment industry. These things often have a negative connotation because they seem to imply that you have ulterior motives. That is, that you are falsely cozying up to someone for your own benefit. But, it actually should never be that way! Instead, successful Networking can best be thought of as a sincere desire to connect with and help others. If you consider your relationships from that perspective, it can be a VERY fulfilling and effective experience. As Zig Ziglar often said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want".
"HEY! Keep it down in there!!!" This is NOT what you want to hear when you are practicing your singing! Yet, it is actually critical for your vocal progress that you find a practice space where you are FREE to make sound. Improving your vocal technique requires that you make lots of "ugly" sounds and plenty of mistakes. If your practice environment causes you to have to keep your voice quiet, or to make only "pleasing" sounds, then your growth will be severely stifled. So, be sure to find a practice spot where you feel 100% free to experiment, to make some bold mistakes, and to "Make A Joyful Noise!"